Here’s what you need to know surrounding the novel coronavirus in British Columbia for April 1, 2020:
Zero chance ‘normal’ returns in April
BC Health Minister Adrian Dix has said that there is ‘zero chance’ that the current measures in BC will be lifted before the end of April suggesting that “we’re in this for a long time.” Along with Dix suggesting things will stay the same in April, BC Premier John Horgan extended the provincial state of emergency for another two weeks. Currently, BC has reported 1,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 24 deaths. Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that over 50% of cases in the province have fully recovered. Another update is scheduled today from Dix and Dr. Henry at 3 pm PT. You can watch it live on CHEK’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Priority child care for front line workers
The BC government has launched a new process to help parents working on the front lines of the response to COVID-19 access child care for kids up to five years old. It says parents working in essential services can identify their need for urgent child care by filling out a form online or by phone, and Child Care Resource Referral centres in 38 communities will connect them with licensed child care spaces. The province says priority will be given to children whose parents work in the health care, social services, law enforcement and emergency response sectors, including first responders. BC is also providing temporary emergency funding for licensed child care providers during the pandemic.
New partnership with tech sector
Premier Horgan says the province is launching a new partnership today with businesses and the tech sector that will help connect BC companies with health-care providers in need of supplies. Addressing the province from his office yesterday evening, Horgan also thanked health-care workers and urged people to stick with physical distancing and other measures to help combat COVID-19.
Cruise ships with Vancouver Islanders to dock Thursday
Two cruise ships carrying nearly 250 Canadians, including several Vancouver Islanders, are expected to dock in Florida on Thursday. Holland America’s Zaandam has been ‘stranded’ for nearly two weeks and denied entry by several countries after reporting four deaths and dozens of infections. The onboard passengers were split onto a second ship, the Rotterdam, as Holland America continued to look for a port that would take them. President Donald Trump has said people are dying on the ship, and he’s going to do “the right thing” for humanity and allow it to dock in Florida, despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saying the state’s health care resources are already stretched too thin to handle the ships.
Multiple petitions to cancel rent, but no change
It’s April 1st and rent payments are due for millions of Canadians for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic led to an economic shutdown and many layoffs. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have signed petitions, asking for the outright cancellation of rents and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests that’s not going to happen, but says the banks have been asked to give people a break if they need it. BC has placed an outright ban on evictions, however, the additional measures for financial relief that have been announced by both the federal and provincial governments are yet to start flowing.
More details of wage subsidy coming
The federal government is preparing to reveal details of the massive new wage subsidy program today, but the government is also trying to sort out whether Parliament will need to be recalled to approve legislation to authorize the program. That’s according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The subsidy — with an expected multi-billion-dollar price tag — is aimed at saving jobs as businesses shutter in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Justin Trudeau is set to make his daily national address at 8:15 am PT Wednesday morning and you can watch it live on CHEK’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Across the border: New York City in dire straits
The death toll in New York City passed 1,000 and officials warned that the worst is yet to come. The response to the virus is becoming more difficult as the pandemic is seriously affecting the front line workers. Ambulance services and police departments are struggling with nearly a quarter of the city’s emergency medical service workers out sick, according to the Fire Department. Reports suggest that over 2,800 members of the Fire Department are sidelined along with 950 EMS workers and more than 1,000 police officers. Authorities are attempting to rapidly build temporary hospitals in parks, convention centres and sports complexes.
With files to Canadian Press